Velvet Merlin | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

very good
688 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: Oatmeal Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
A decadent oatmeal stout. Velvet Merlin offers robust cocoa and espresso aromas with subtle American hop nuances. Rich dark chocolate and roasted coffee flavor with a creamy mouth feel and wonderfully dry finish create the perfect balance in this full-bodied stout. Ideal for sipping in the winter months or at the end of a meal.

Original name was "Velvet Merkin", but name was changed when it began to be bottled in 2010.

Added by largadeer on 11-13-2008

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 688 | Ratings: 3,050
Photo of Marraybay
2.73/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Look: Very dark; Not much head; Some light lacing apparent.

Smell: Espresso or coffee

Taste: Looking for a little sweetness, but it doesn't exist. Has more of
a tart upfront note that transitions into coffee bitterness at the close.
Goes down pretty smoothly.

Feel: Creamy; full

Overall: Not a fan. The opening volley of tart-sour that segueways
into a burnt-coffee bitterness is not an overly enjoyable experience
in my opinion. It was a smooth drinker however and I did finish.

 489 characters

Photo of Crumb_Destiny
4.7/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep in dank torch-lit cave
Far from pride of prancing knave
What would brew, but a quaff so dark
That sheaths the shine of pale lark?

That glosses the soul and softens the spirit,
Casts aside what lies nearest
For the utmost reaches and mossy peaks?
One with much to teach, if thou wilt hear it.

 297 characters

Photo of Johnnyvelvet
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Nitro Tap @ Toronado. Black appearance with nice tan head. Aroma of mild roast and dark coffee. Flavor of coffee and cream. Light roastiness with little oatmeal present. Medium-full body that is very slick.

 206 characters

Photo of CNoj012
3.76/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours an opaque black with ruby highlights. There is a small cola like head that disappears immediately and leaves no sign of lacing. The smell is very nice. Robust chocolate and coffee dominate. The taste is similar, but more muted than the smell. The feel is where this beer really lacks. Light and watery. It seems to dillute the taste. Next to no carbonation either. Overall solid, but so many better options out there.

 434 characters

Photo of delta490
3.78/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This pours a very deep brown, almost black, with a light tan head. Minimal retention around the outside and small amounts of soapy lacing. The aroma is light, mostly roasted malts with just a hint of chocolate. The taste is much the same and the body is lighter with just a hint of fizz.

 287 characters

Photo of thepenguin
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Pours a very dark brown, near black, with minimal head.

S: Roasty and toasty, you can definitely smell the oats with the toastiness. Some faint English variety hops. The smell on this beer isn’t particularly strong.

T: Very balanced and pretty mild on the roastiness: this could easily pass as a porter. Chocolately, toasty and nutty, and only moderately malty with a slight breadiness. Extremely drinkable with a toasty and moderately roasty finish.

F: Medium bodied with a silky but light mouthfeel and medium carbonation, perhaps a bit too than the style would warrant.

Overall: Solid, very drinkable oatmeal stout. The roastiness is incredibly mild though and the beer could pass as a lighter style. I would have liked the aroma to be a bit more pronounced, but otherwise this is a tasty dark beer that I wouldn’t mind tossing back a few of.

 856 characters

Photo of Ksmoove27
3.99/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Look - midnight oil with reddish tint...2 finger light chocolate head...keeps a circle ring spider lacing

Smell - nice cocoa, espresso

Taste - a light toasted malt, chocolate and coffee follow through

Feel - a little light for my stout palate but smooth, medium bodied,

Overall - a little thin for my stout palate but good flavor in the cocoa and expresso

 376 characters

Photo of beerthulhu
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

- duvel glass. Bot. 10.16.15. Consumed 12.12.15.

A: Dark cola pour sits a flat black in the vessel with a dark, creamy, walnut toned head of 0.5 inches. Thin, film lacing coats the glass well.

S: Beautiful freshly charred firewood, roasted oats, with a smokey chocolate finish of generally good proportions. Head retention is fair, lapsing to a whispy covering.

T: Beautiful smoky charred chocolate, firewood, and roasted oats, are, as the name suggests, velvety in nature. Smooth smoky pine bitterness, touches of burnt cookie dough sweetness, and chocolate licorice add highlights while finishing out with a smooth smokey charred finish.

M: Creamy mouthful, mid body offering, very smooth, velvety on the tongue, charred warmth lingers behind.

O: Overall a highly drinkable oatmeal stout, with a sooty, charred and a velvety nature. Drinks really big in nature for its modest abv%.

 893 characters

Photo of leantom
4.16/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Big thanks to FW for brewing this. I finally found a stout that my Dad loves! He's a life-long European Pilsner drinker who typically prefers translucent yellow fizz water, but he agreed that this is a great beer. Here goes:

A: Splendid. Pours dark brown but with a massive tan head. Leaves a lot of lacing as well.

S: Not much on the oats and dark fruit; mostly chocolate and coffee. While there is some oatmeal in the background, the roasted notes predominate. I prefer these notes over the fruity ones in Russian Imperial stouts, but I was still somewhat surprised that the beer did not have a richer oatmeal character.

T: Good. Somewhat light, but it's still very tasteful and well-balanced. Notes of coffee, dark chocolate, and some oatmeal at the back of the palate (but it's not very lingering). Again, not very robust, but it's still incredibly flavorful.

F: Only mediocre part of the beer. Somewhat light, especially when using other beers of the style as reference, but this is to be expected given the ABV.

O: Great beer. Thank you, FW!

 1,071 characters

Photo of CHickman
3.99/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 10/06/15: Pours very dark brown with red-mahogany color at the edge of the glass where light hits the brew; a thick foamy 2-3 finger tan head moves from popping bubbles, dissipating very slowly and leaving decent spotty lacing. A cloud like layer floated on top for quite a while after the head faded away.

Smells of roasted malt, coffee grinds, dry toasted oatmeal flakes, cocoa powder, light toffee and bakers chocolate. It's got a hint of leafy herbs but basically all malty sweetness with the coffee and chocolate accents cutting through everything and providing the most impressive aromas.

Tastes like it smells, with cocoa powder, roasted malt, coffee grinds, dry toasted oats, oatmeal flakes, light toffee, bakers chocolate, earthy notes or peat moss, faint vanilla, a little ash or char and mild yeast that gives off the metallic essence. Like the nose it's got a hint of leafy herbs and even some piney hops, but mostly it's got a stronger malt profile with chocolate sweetness mixing with the coffee, oats and bready yeast which trails off with that penny/metallic taste.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth like it should be, with a thin to light body, a slight bitterness and yet some chewy aspects that are consistent with the stout profile. A solid, tasty year-round enjoyable stout.

 1,303 characters

Photo of Dustin_Sallitt
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

The nose isn't impressive, slight cocoa and hops, but almost lager like. The taste is much better, with a nice balance of cocoa and coffee roast that is just potent enough. Nice mouthfeel for the low alcohol percentage, leaves a nice roasted aftertaste as well. Solid beer.

 273 characters

Photo of LateToThisParty
3.6/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

12oz, bottled 10/19/15 (47days), poured into a pint glass.
Beautiful head formation with deep red bubbles, settling down to a 1-finger straw-tan top. Otherwise, opaque black.
Found the aroma mild oats with chocolate and hints of spice.
Taste is fruity with a stale-coffee backbone and subtle chocolate. Finish is bitter, but there is a strong acidic undertone (sour, metallic) that detracts from the dark robustness.
Drinks smooth, leaning toward the creamy, and it feels warmer that the 5.5ABV would suggest.

Paired by chance with some chocolate fudge, which was a good flavor match but countered the bitter. It also mitigated that unfortunate acidity.

 654 characters

Photo of wumpshire
4.45/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A great example of an oatmeal stout. Far better than a can of imported Guinness. I haven't had a lot of oatmeal stouts other than Guinness, yet I'd buy it over Guinness any day. That said, I've had Guinness in Dublin, and its far better fresh on draught. Fresh Guinness is very clean and smooth, the Velvet Merlin is creamy and smokey, different yet equally good. Well done Firestone!

 384 characters

Photo of Phil-Fresh
3.98/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Moderate roast, slightly chocolatey with ample oatmeal presence.

A: Black, totally opaque with a thin tannish head that recedes quickly.

T: Chocolate/coffee roasted malt flavor, slightly sweet with some oats presence. The beer finishes dry with slight roast bitterness.

M: Medium bodied with low carbonation. The beer’s oats give it a smooth mouthfeel, but lacks creaminess.

O: Very solid; this oatmeal stout has a nice coffee/chocolate malt roastiness and smooth oatmeal character that makes the beer quite drinkable.

 531 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
3.82/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Dark brown pour, mild tan head. Aroma was smooth, oats, brown malt, chocolate malt.

Real sturdy sipper, good heft, but not bulky. Good use of the oats. Roasty as Scorpion might say. Not bitter or astringent in any way, good non adjunct stouts still comin' on strong.

 273 characters

Photo of q33jeff
3.98/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle to snifter. Winner in side by side with Sierra Nevada Narwhal. Not exactly the same type of beer, but close. ... Aroma is Toasted bread, beef stew, thyme, cardamom. I know, strange, but good. Dark black color, thick head. Taste is toast, grain, coffee. Sweet finish. Medium carb. Smooth. Very nice stout. Aroma is most unique.
Bottle to snifter.
Still a nice smooth oatmeal stout with a little unique character.

 448 characters

Photo of bubseymour
4.5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Very strong oatmeal smell with a hint of chocolate. The most "oaty" smell stout I think I've had. Very flavorful stout with a perfect balance of hints of chocolate, coffee, hops, roast and oats. Really well balanced and quite enjoyable for a standard level stout. Highly recommend.

 285 characters

Photo of Chris_Huston
2.83/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

I don't know if this is a bad bottle, or just how bad they can conceivably get, but this was a huge disappointment. Nothing wrong on the eyes -- classic, unsurprising stout look and pour, very healthy. But very weak, roasted aroma, same on the taste, and little other scents or flavors. Body is more like a porter, too watery for a stout. Not horrible, but just very bland compared to other entries in this competitive category, and definitely way below FW standards. I'll try it again eventually just to verify my findings, but won't rush for another.

 552 characters

Photo of gopens44
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pretty standard looking stout, dark as night with gently lacing thick brown head. Nose is tangy, earthy and a little spicey. Taste is very similar but it's got a touch of chocolate and a nice bitterness hanging out as well. Finish is a tad bitter, virtually no sweetness and aside from some tingly carbonation, it's pretty smooth.

 335 characters

Photo of KYGunner
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In my opinion, this is one of the best "low alcohol" stouts. At only 5.5% this milks a whole lot of flavor in a low malt situation. Plenty of roast, char, burnt coffee, chocolate malt and coffee grounds.

 203 characters

Photo of Chickenhawk9932
4.16/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep dark mahogany bordering on black with a coffee colored head that quickly dissipates.

Smells of coffee, chocolate, whole grain bread, caramel, and fig.

Taste is nice bitter coffee and chocolate notes followed by malty bread notes and fig and plumb. It has a thick mouthfeel (full bodied) with a creamy smoothness balanced by the dry bitter finish.

 363 characters

Photo of Wiffler27
4.23/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

pours black with slight ruby tones at the bottom of the glass. solid white head as well.

smells very sweet, like cream-milk.

taste is very sweet with a creamy dry finish, if that makes sense. goes down smooth but the cream-flavored finish is a bit off.

overall a pretty good beer but nothing spectacular. there are other stouts/porters that i would drink over this. not bad at all but far from great in my book.

 414 characters

Photo of dbl_delta
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle dated 10/6/15 into pint glass. Pours a dark ruby-black with just a slight hint of color at the edge. Tan head dissipates rapidly. Initial impression is mildly chocolate with a slightly sweet malt backbone. Moderate carbonation. Mouthfeel is a little thin for an oatmeal stout. Very smooth, though. Perhaps not my favorite oatmeal stout, but well worth a try.

 372 characters

Photo of Jeffsta1
3.89/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Nice dark color.

Bouquet is malty, a bit sour, kinda funky. Unique.

Taste is subtle, malt, cocoa, bitter.

Mouthfeel is moderately rich. Possibly light for a stout, more of a rich imperial porter.

Finish emphasizes the bitter notes, not quite as good as the rest of the beer.

 278 characters

Photo of StoutElk_92
4.05/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours dark, almost black with a tan head. Smells of toasty, roasted chocolate malts. The taste is like mild dark chocolate, oats, and dark roasted coffee. Feels creamy and light with mild carbonation. Overall a good oatmeal stout.

 230 characters

Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
3.98 out of 5 based on 3,050 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.